Canonization of Grandma M’s Chili Sauce

This is a post about “CANonizing” (sorry I couldn’t help myself) my Grandma M’s fabulous chili sauce recipe, putting it where it dutifully belongs, among the saints and angels, martyrs and glorified souls. Because believe me, it’s so delicious, it’s worthy of such a declaration.

And so here it is: for all the world to share! But be warned, the best part about this whole thing is that my dad at one point, had to coax the recipe out of my grandma. She was less reluctant to give it up, more just an expert at slight of hand cooking. All the measurements are calculated based on her whimsy that day, so I’ve just gone on the good graces that the concoction I’ve put together does her justice!!

Grandma M’s Chili Sauce

20 Tomatoes
6 Onions
6 Apples
6 Pears
6 Peaches
2 Green Peppers
1 Tablespoon Ground Allspice
2 cups of sugar
2 Tablespoons salt
2 cups of vinegar

“Cook all together, until thick and thicken with cornstarch if necessary.”
Yield: 7-8 Tall Jars
And that’s it! Literally – the picture of her handwritten recipe is proof I’m not holding back!

In Grandma's words, how to make chili sauce

Here are some additions of my own, which I will impart onto you, because we aren’t all old hand’s at canning, and there were a few steps which left me scratching my head… live and learn!

Buy a canning kit! You can get one at most hardware/department stores – it cost me $7. If you are going to look around your house you will need the following:
– massively big pot (professionally termed “canner” in the canning world
– Jar clamp
– tongs
– magnetic stick thingy – I would be amazed if you had this laying around… they are specific to canning kits.

2. To Sanitize the jars: wash them out and then get a BIG pot of water boiling. About 20 minutes from the time you are ready to fill the jars with sauce, take them out of the boiling water (you will need a jar clamp to do this, from the kit mentioned above), and leave the boiling water standing in the jars. When ready to fill, pour the water out back into your huge pot… you are going to need it again!

Place clean jars in boiling water to sterilize

3. The peaches and tomatoes need to be peeled. To peel tomatoes get (another) pot of water boiling, dunk them in for a minute and then use a slotted spoon to remove. You can then easily work the skin off. For peaches: Same thing, put them in boiling water, remove after a few minutes, but then, place them in a bowl of icy cold water. After sitting in this for a few minutes the skins will be ready to come right off!

Boil the peaches in water for about 3 minutes to get the skins off

After boiling the peaches for 3 minutes, put them in a bowl of icy water

4. To thicken with corn-starch: Mix a small amount of cornstarch (2 tablespoons) with some cold water in a separate bowl, THEN put the mixture into the pot of veggies and fruit. If you miss this step (as I did the first time) you will have lumps all through the sauce. Thanks to my mom for pointing the correct way out to me… obviously it wasn’t an evident step indicated by Grandma M.

Melange des fruits

5. Worrying about correct sterilization: Sloop John B and I argued over the correct method of how to make sure we were averting “botulizing” ourselves – each of us having read many various sources on the topic – here is a summary of what you should take into account:
a) Botulism is resistant to heat – it is about making sure that the bacteria doesn’t get into the jar in the first place. It is not evident when you open the jar if it has botulism or not.
b) the vinegar in the recipe helps raise the acidity which will help kill botulism.
c) make sure you wipe the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel before putting the lids on. No food should get under the rims of the lids.
d) Boiling the filled jars for a good period of time AFTER you fill them and seal them helps avert botulism. It is also part of the process so make sure you do it!

6. On Putting the sauce into the jars: This recipe yields approximately 7 of the tall “mason” jars. Take the jars standing with the hot water and pour the water back into the canning pot. Use the clamp to do this. Pour the liquid through the funnel (IN KIT!) into the jars. Fill to 1 inch from the rim. Take a rubber spatula and move it along the inside walls of the jar. This removes any air pockets. Wipe the rims of the jar with a clean paper towel. Use the magnet stick and take the new lids, which you have in hot water, and put it carefully on the top of the jar. Repeat this with the ring. Tighten the lids, but not too tight. There should still be some give. Use the clamp, and put the full jar in the pot of boiling water. The water should cover the lids by about one inch. Boil the heck out the filled jars for about 30-35 minutes. It’s debatable as to whether or not this step is absolutely necessary for this recipe (because in theory the vinegar helps rid the bacteria), but I figure, better safe than sorry.

7. Are they done? :
Take the jars out of the boiling water, let them stand. Tighten the lids but DON”T press on the seals. Let them stand over night. After 12 hours check to see if the seal has clicked into place. If they have sealed, the top lid will be concave and there will be no give to it.

And that my friends, is called a MASSIVE LABOUR OF LOVE. ❤

One of my favorite memories about my Grandma was her ability to get people to do things for her without directly asking the question – for instance, while sitting around the breakfast table, she would look at the choices for toast topping. If the jam was missing she would pointedly ask around the table, “Would you like some jam for your toast?”
“No Grandma” my sisters, cousins, or I would say.
“Oh are you sure you don’t want some jam, there’s a wonderful jar in the fridge.”
“No Mom” my parents would say.
And then following a pause, someone would then ask her,
“Oh but would you like some jam Grandma?”

“Well yes, I don’t mind if I do.”

So, the other day I felt a little nudge, something pointedly asking me, “Now, wouldn’t you just love some of that Chili sauce…”
In loving memory of Veneda Murtha


2 thoughts on “Canonization of Grandma M’s Chili Sauce

  1. Pingback: When you can’t make Wine, Make Grape Jelly! | Sparrow in the Tree Top

  2. Pingback: I’m Making This Up As I Go Along « Sparrow in the Tree Top

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